Farah on fire at Muller Anniversary Games
Mo Farah (coach: Alberto Salazar) showed just why he is double Olympic and world champion as he stormed to Müller Anniversary Games 5,000m victory in 12.59.29, the fastest time in the world this year.
Farah is the only British man to have broken the 13 minute barrier, and he did it again on a wonderful July afternoon, roared on by an adoring British crowd. Running single file from the gun, the intent was clear as the pacemakers did a terrific job of setting the men on their way to a sub 13 clocking.
By 3,000m it was Farah versus the clock and that's where the going got tough. But with the help of the crowd the 5,000m and 10,000m champion showed what he was made of, running a last lap of 56 seconds to produce the perfect finale to a great weekend’s athletics.
“I got amazing support from the crowd - I just wanted to go for it. It was my last chance to run quick before Rio. I mean, I love this track, it means a lot to me. Not many people get a chance to compete in their home town and have so many memories of the place.
“Rio is right around the corner but it means a lot to get the win before going into those championships. I am in good shape but I have to keep my feet on the ground. Anything can happen in two and a half weeks, it is all about staying patient now.”
Farah wasn’t the only Brit on form though as Scotland’s Andrew Butchart (Derek Easton) continued his rise to true world class status with a second place finish in 13.14.85. Running in a large chasing group the Scottish record holder ran a blistering last lap to overhaul a number of more experienced campaigners and win his first ever Diamond Race points.
“I have never experienced a crowd like this in my life - if I can experience that again in my lifetime I’ll be delighted. I have been at altitude for the last four weeks and know I am in shape; it gives you something of a boost and you feel like you can breathe easier. I want to make the final [in Rio] and I think the race could be something similar to that.”
Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Mike Holmes) returned to the scene of her high jump personal best last night to rediscover her best long jump form, defeating a strong field with a season’s best 6.84m jump. It was her series that was arguably most impressive though, with six jumps over 6.60m.
She didn’t have it all her own way though, as Shara Proctor (Rana Reider) was also in season’s best form, producing an equally good series to finish just 4cm behind KJT.
Of her weekend’s work Johnson-Thompson said:
“I‘m happy with that - there was good consistency throughout my jumps. It is obviously good to get the win on this stage and it gives me confidence as I focus on the heptathlon at the Olympic Games.
“I enjoy coming to this event every year; I have had two opportunities this weekend and I have enjoyed it.”
Jessica Ennis-Hill (Toni Minichiello) finished down in seventh with a best of 6.19m, with new Diamond League regulations meaning she only got three attempts.
Marie-Josee Ta Lou had to equal her lifetime best of 10.96 (-0.7m/s) to secure victory in the women’s 100m final. An elite field including Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce toed the line, but it was Ta Lou who snatched victory on the line from Michelle-Lee Ahye, who also sneaked under 11 seconds. Fraser-Pryce had to settle for third in 11.06 after winning her heat in 11.03.
The battle of the Brits took place in the outside lanes, British record holder Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie) edging out Desiree Henry (Rana Reider), 11.09 to 11.17 in fourth and sixth respectively.
Of her run Asher-Smith said:
“I'm really happy to run another 11.09, although I would have liked to have run a PB, as I feel in that sort of shape. But when you are facing a headwind, that is all you can do.
“The London Diamond League is amazing, it feels as though you are at a major championship. You raise your performances at those champs, and that's what I feel everyone has done here.”
Dafne Schippers did what she does best in the women’s 200m, putting clear daylight between herself and her rivals to take victory in a world class 22.13. Leading off the bend, she only continued to pull away from Tiffany Townsend and Joanna Atkins, the duo separated by just one hundredth of a second, Townsend equalling her 22.63 season’s best. It’s hard to believe when Schippers was last here it was finishing 11th in the heptathlon at London 2012.
“I'm happy for now. I came here to win the race and I feel like the time will come in Rio. I'm comfortable with being tagged as the favourite, as I'm never nervous which is good for me. I think the 200m has always been my favourite.”
Jodie Williams (Ryan Freckleton) went sub 23 in fifth place, her 22.99 run just fractionally slower than the time she produced at the European Championships.
The GB & NI men’s sprint relay team put previous baton problems behind them, with extensive practice in the last twelve months clearly paying off as they stormed to victory in a world leading 37.78 here in London.
Running leg one James Dasaolu (Steve Fudge) set things up nicely for his teammates, and a smooth change with Adam Gemili (Fudge) was a recurring theme as James Ellington (Linford Christie) and Chijindu Ujah (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) both did the same to take the quartet very close to the British record.
“We know with a bit more practice over the next few weeks, that British record is there for the taking”, said Dasaolu post-race.
Adam Gemili added:
“We are a great squad and really get on with each other. There has been a lot of hard work from a lot of people to make this team stronger. We are all running really well and are very confident. We believe we can go out there and challenge the world's best.”
Matthew Hudson-Smith (Tony Hadley) ran another perfectly judged race to win the men’s 400m in 45.03 from Trinidad and Tobago’s Deon Lendore. There were four athletes in contention coming into the home straight, but ultimately Hudson-Smith was the strongest, as he held his form and his nerve to edge clear for the win.
“This race has been ideal for me - I needed to build some confidence and that's exactly what I've done. I didn't execute quite how I wanted to, but I'll take the win. I wanted to get a time and put out a statement, now I've got to look towards Rio.”
Back in third there was a 45.45 season’s best for Rabah Yousif (Carol Williams), who is rounding into form nicely ahead of Rio. Much to the disappointment of the crowd Martyn Rooney (Reider) was disqualified for a false start.
In the men’s one lap hurdles Kerron Clement showed his class, the American winning in 48.40 ahead of Javier Culson, with both men recording season’s bests. Fifth place went to Jack Green (Jane Plews), with Seb Rodger (Stephen King) sixth, both men fractionally outside their season’s bests.
Dimitri Bascou took 110m hurdles victory by a similar margin to Kendra Harrison’s world record run last night, however albeit quick, his 13.20 winning time wasn’t quite as special. David Omoregie (Benke Blomkvist) was the best of the Brits in fifth, his 13.64 clocking now quite as good as the 13.48 he ran in qualifying.
Of his race the Loughborough University student said:
“Technically I didn't feel too great in that race - I felt a bit tight going into it. I performed better in the heats but couldn't quite match that in the final. I ran a PB last weekend and I was hoping to reproduce that but I just didn't get a good start. I was playing catch up from there but maybe the false starts didn't help.
“I ran here last year, and really enjoyed it then. It motivates me and I'm looking to be back here for the World Championships in 2017.”
There was bad news for both Lawrence Clarke (Samba-Koundy Giscard) and Andy Pozzi (Malcolm Arnold), the former getting disqualified for a false start, the latter withdrawing from the final after suffering cramp in warm-up. Having said that, Pozzi did qualify fastest for the final with a 13.19 personal best, which is right up there in world terms.
Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (Jon Bigg) prevailed in an enthralling three way tussle in the women’s 800m, staying strong in the closing 30 metres to move clear of Lynsey Sharp (Reider) and American Molly Ludlow. Coming off the bend it was Ludlow who lead, but first Sharp, fresh from a 1.57.75 run at the Monaco Diamond League a week ago, and then Oskan-Clarke edged past, with the latter breaking the tape in a season’s best of 1.59.46.
Afterwards the British Champion said:
“It was great to win today; this is probably the biggest win of my career. I ran the race well and timed it well at the end. I was in form a few weeks ago but it just takes me a while to get my form out. I am confident of the shape I am in and this is a stepping stone for me.”
Joe Kovacs produced a huge 22.04m to win the men’s shot put competition from Kiwi Tom Walsh. Leading from round two with a 21.54m effort, Walsh was overhauled by Kovacs’ winning effort in round five, much to the big American’s delight.
“I wanted to make sure I got the Diamond League points, and obviously it's also great preparation for Rio. I debated coming here with one eye on the Olympics, but it's been such a great test at what's been a great meet - this place is amazing and I'm excited to hopefully come back here next year.”
The top two women in the pole vault Diamond Race finished in order in a closely fought competition, with conditions perfect for vaulting. Courtesy of victory Katerina Stefanidi now has five wins from five Diamond Leagues this season, her first time clearance of 4.80m ending Yarisley Silva’s chances, after the Cuban cleared 4.72m at the third time of asking to stay in the competition.
Youngster Eliza McCartney finished in third, with Holly Bradshaw (Scott Simpson) was fourth thanks to first time clearance at 4.52m, but she was disappointed not to have cleared 4.62m.
“It wasn't the best performance from me. I don't really know what happened because the conditions were really good. I wanted to try and make the most of the opportunity. It is disappointing because it is my last competition before Rio. I'm still in a better place than I was going into Beijing [World Championships], so I have got to take the positives and work on a few things.”
Sandra Perkovic continued her winning form to also take Diamond League victory number five of the season, breaking the meeting record with a 69.94m throw.
Jade Lally (Andrew Neal) also produced a promising display as she finished third with a first round 61.65m.
China’s Xinglong Gao was the winner of the men’s long jump competition, his first round effort of 8.11m enough to bag 10 vital Diamond Race points and move to the top of the standings.
Habiba Ghribi looked in great shape as she fine tunes her Rio preparations; she took 3000m steeplechase victory in 9.21.35 ahead of Stephanie Garcia. Brit Rosie Clarke (David Harmer) ran a gutsy race to improve her personal best to 9.51.97, but unfortunately Lennie Waite (Steve Sisson) did not finish.
Full results can be found here: http://london.diamondleague.com/lists_results_london